The baby started stirring while I was still leafing through the maps at the beginning of Moby-Dick, and then I ran into the four or five pages of quotes about whaling. Before I’d read any of them but after I’d seen what I was up against, the baby woke all the way up and was grumpy and grunting and farting and I was back on duty, realizing there was no way I was going to read five pages on whaling, never mind the rest, not with the life I’d made for myself, or fallen into. I wanted the fantasy at the core of The Art of Fielding-life on the cusp of great green beauty-to continue, but there’s the baby and chores and my office job and the managing of my various fantasy league rosters and my rare quick masturbation sessions and my 30-minute jogs on a treadmill to pantomime the staving off of death and, last but not least, my own compulsive pedestrian stabs at writing. Alas, those stabs are noodling kazoo music compared to the orchestral depth and richness of Harbach’s book, a book that points with measured, measuring, illuminating irony and fearless sincerity at Moby-Dick and, beyond that, at the endangered subject of all art: great beauty. So, yeah, after finishing The Art of Fielding I didn’t read Moby-Dick.